F Crystal Light

Editor’s Foreword

This is one I wrote back in September of 2004 for a fantasy contest on a writers’ forum.

Tick.

“I live for moments like these!” His arms outstretched toward the setting sun, the old man stood triumphantly at the mountain’s edge.

Behind him, a younger man tried to catch his breath. “Enough, Nek! We have to climb down the mountain, across the valley, and reach the castle before the sun dips below the horizon.” He looked across the valley and his heart sank.

Nek started his climb down the mountainside. “We must not delay. If darkness falls before we return the crystal, the spell of light will be broken and the world will forever be plunged into darkness.”

“I have not forgotten.” The younger man followed his spritely older companion. “But, I think we have not more than fifteen minutes.”

“We can make it, John,” Nek replied. “We must. But, if it comes to it, I shall–”

“No!” snapped John. “If you do, you will die.”

“I was the one who took the crystal. I am responsible,” said Nek.

“It is not your fault. Without the crystal’s power, we could never have defeated the Shadow Army.”

Nek remained unmoved by John’s argument. “It would give you at least an extra hour, John. You can easily make it in that amount of time.” He descended carefully, his leathered hands firmly grasping the rock face.

“I won’t let it come to that.” John climbed down as fast as he could, trying to overtake the old man. His fingers began to bleed as the rough stone cut into them. He looked down. Twenty more feet, and the rest of the way down sloped gently down into the valley. “Once we reach the slope, I can run from there.”

Nek grew concerned his partner descended too quickly. “Do not rush yourself, John. If you are injured, I will be unable to make it myself in time.”

John reached the edge of the rock face, and took his first uneasy steps on the slope. “Nothing to worry about.” He looked up at Nek, slowly but steadily climbing down. With no time to spare, John could not wait for his partner, and began his run down the slope.

Nek looked over his shoulder. “Careful, John!”

Though the mountainside sloped, it did not do so smoothly. John ran quickly, maintaining his balance despite the uneven terrain. His luck soon ran out. Hitting his left foot against a rock, his other foot tripped over another rock before he could regain his balance. He fell and tumbled several yards before coming to a stop.

“John!” Nek sprinted to his companion’s side, avoiding all obstacles with the grace of a mountain goat.

John winced in pain. “My leg. My leg. I think it’s broken.”

Nek examined John’s leg. “I think you're right.”

John reached into his pocket, pulled out the crystal and held it out to Nek. “Take it.”

Nek refused the crystal. “I’ll never make it in time.”

“You must try.”

“There is only one thing I can do now.”

John forced himself up and struggled to his feet. He grimaced in pain, but he found the will to walk on his broken leg. “I will limp quickly.” Slowly, he walked off toward the castle.

“John,” Nek said in a low voice. “The sun is almost gone. There is no other way.”

John turned around as he heard Nek unfurling his wings. “No!”

“You will have at least an hour,” said Nek, lifting himself into the air. “I will give you as much as I can. Goodbye, old friend.”

“Nek, no!” John watched as the old man flew higher into the sky. He quickly covered his eyes as Nek transformed into a ball of light as bright as the sun itself.

John squinted as he followed the light across the sky to rest above the castle. Summoning every ounce of will he had, John took off across the valley.

Nek’s light kept the spell unbroken until John replaced the crystal to its rightful place. John looked up at the dimming light, and watched as it simply faded away. “Goodbye, old friend.”

Tock.

 

About the Author

Dan C. Rinnert is the editor of ScienceFictionFantasyHorror.com.

 

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